Who is my Neighbor? Islam and Christianity

Today our theme was “Who is my neighbor: Islam and Christianity.” Presenters included a Muslim scholar and former ambassador from Pakistan, Dr. Akbar Ahmed; Dr. William Sachs, an Episcopal priest now running an interfaith think-tank; and Ms. Eliza Grizwold, poet and journalist who has published an account of her seven years of reporting on the intersection of Christianity and Islam along “The Tenth Parallel” (the book’s title).

The morning was spent in presentations on the complexities and yet necessity of Christian-Muslim dialogue since over 60% of the world’s population are adherents of these two religions. As we approach the 10th anniversary of 9/11 prejudice, fear, and misunderstanding of Muslims seems only increasing in the United States and all speakers emphasized the need for us to counter this reality.

So often we hear “where are the moderate Muslim voices” to counter Al Quaida, the Taliban, etc. Today we were asked “Where are the moderate Christian voices to counter Glenn Beck, Franklin Graham and the other fear mongers who regularly demonize all Muslims for the sins of the extemists. Good question…

In the afternoon two models for our response were presented: Bishop Joe Burnett formerly of Nebraska spoke of the “Tri Faith Initiative’ in Omaha — where property has been purchased on which to construct a Jewish temple, an Episcopal Church, and a Muslim mosque sharing a common campus and built around what they call “the fourth building” which will be an interfaith center for dialogue, study, and social action together.

And Bishop Tom Shaw of Massachusetts told the story of how a community of 350 Muslims began praying in the crypt of the Cathedral in Boston – initially simply providing a safe space for them to pray, now developed into cooperative efforts for reconciliation and understanding in the wider community.

Dr.Ahmed encouraged us to pray for and support the exciting, but extemely fragile, uprisings across the Arab world and their search for democracy and human rights. No one knows how these ‘grass roots’ movements will turn our, since they are largely leaderless and somewhat unfocused. However, he believes they are a genuine human cry after so many years of oppression and domination by cruel tyrants.

Even if some fail, he believes these movements to be extremely significant not only for Islam, but for peace and justice in the world.

During the day he shared an amazing quote from the Prophet Mohammed who once said, “The ink of scholars is worth more than the blood of martyrs.” Why do we never hear this cited?

6 Responses to “Who is my Neighbor? Islam and Christianity”

  1. Robert Fisher Says:

    You don’t seem to be the slightest bit interested in whether Graham or Beck raise valid critiques. Instead you parallel a mere critique alongside the real death dealt out by Islamic terrorists, and real discrimination and death dealt out by foreign Islamic populations at large against Christian minorities within their borders. You claim there is “misunderstanding”, but you never seem the slightest bit bothered to show that there actually is any. Why would you think your lazy attempt at a tu quoque argument would persuade anyone? It’s like a sleazy criminal shouting defiantly to the judge that he should be let off, “Because I bet you done lots of bad stuff too!”. This stuff is just immature and spiteful. You would not pay it any mind in any other context in life. Yet you advance it here as a solid justification for dismissing all critiques of Islam without offering even one solid reason why it is so.

    Perhaps before you attempt to pluck the mote of unjust criticism out of the eye of commentators in this nation who raise legitimate questions about Islam, you should remove the beam from your own eye with regards to your own blatantly unbalanced, knee jerk, unthinking critiques of those commentators?

    Just out of curiosity, what would Dr. Ahmed think if one of his children converted to Christianity?

    Why do we never hear his (or other “moderate”) opinions on this cited? That might carry some weight, but I notice you judiciously avoid any quotes from these moderate communities that would contain anything of substance that is relevant to refuting the critiques of them. That strikes me as odd.

  2. Christopher Epting Says:

    Actually, Dr.Ahmed was asked that question. Like me (if one of my children converted to Islam) he would be very sad…but would honor their decision as mature children of God.

  3. Paolo Says:

    Actually, Mr. Epstein, the vast majority of Muslims favor the killing of converts, as you’d know by yourself if you read the news. It is mainstream teaching and, nowadays, practice. In Pakistan and elsewhere it is the law. Any question, mind you, for your Muslim friends? Where is their protest? Why, they protest that we dare protest, don’t they?

    As a mature children of God you are supposed to acknowledge plain facts, such as the slaughtering perpetrated – and celebrated – daily (check, please) against your brothers and sisters in Christ: these are your neighbors, those persecuted, but you are silent about them.

    T-o-t-a-l-l-y s-i-l-e-n-t

  4. Christopher Epting Says:

    The name is Epting. And, as a bishop of The Episcopal Church and Anglican Cmmunion, I have lost friends and colleagues to Jewish, Christian, and Muslim extremists. Our church stands in solidarity with persecuted Christians around the world. We are simply not prepared to demonize an entire religion for the acts of these extremists — be they Jewish, Christian, Muslim or any other.

  5. shahnawaz Says:

    mulim is right

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